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White House says intel officials haven’t reached consensus on report of Russian bounties

The White House said Monday there’s still no consensus among U.S. intelligence officials about reports that Russia offered bounties to Afghan militants to kill American soldiers. White House Kayleigh McEnany said the president and Vice President Mike Pence were not told about the allegation because it hasn’t been verified. “The U.S. receives thousands of reports…

White House says intel officials haven’t reached consensus on report of Russian bounties

The White House said Monday there’s still no consensus among U.S. intelligence officials about reports that Russia offered bounties to Afghan militants to kill American soldiers.

White House Kayleigh McEnany said the president and Vice President Mike Pence were not told about the allegation because it hasn’t been verified.

“The U.S. receives thousands of reports a day on intelligence,” Ms. McEnany said. “There is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations. There were dissenting opinions within the intelligence community.”

She said the matter ordinarily “would not be elevated to the president until it was verified.”

The New York Times reported on Friday that Mr. Trump had been briefed about the alleged bounties offered by Russia, a report that the White House refuted.

The White House is briefing selected lawmakers about the alleged bounty intelligence Monday.

Ms. McEnany used the issue to criticize The New York Times for its “failed” reporting about the Russia “hoax” over the past four years, and called on The Times and The Washington Post to “hand back their Pulitzers” awarded in 2018 for their coverage of the so-called Russia collusion story.

She said The New York Times “should step back and ask themselves why they’ve been so wrong, so often.”

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“The New York Times falsely claimed [former Trump campaign Chair] Paul Manafort asked for polling data to be passed along to [Russian oligarch] Oleg Deripaska before having to issue a correction,” she said. “In June of 2017, The New York Times falsely wrote all 17 intel agencies had agreed on Russian interference, before having to issue a correction that it was only four agencies.”

The Times said in its correction that Manafort wanted the data sent to two Ukrainian oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov, not to Mr. Deripaska, who is close to the Kremlin.

She also said The Times in February 2017 “published a story claiming Trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence, which even [former FBI Director] James Comey said was almost entirely wrong.”

And she said The New York Times “published a column in March of 2019 by a former Times executive editor that asserted the Trump campaign and Russia had an ‘overarching deal’ — the ‘quid’ of help in the campaign against Hillary [Clinton] for the ‘quo’ of a new pro-Russian foreign policy. That’s what we call the Russia hoax, which was investigated for three years with taxpayer dollars before ultimately giving an exoneration in the Mueller report.”

“It is inexcusable, the failed Russia reporting of The New York Times,” she said.

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